Having mentors and “heroes” can make an enormous difference in one’s professional path. Leslie Zamora-Murguía is the Global Head of Learning & Engagement at TPG, a leading global alternative asset management firm with $139 billion (and counting) in assets under management. She counts many people among her influences along the way, but two in the world of private equity stand out.
“Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, TPG’s COO, is a trailblazer in our community who understands the unique challenges of being a Latina in Private Equity firsthand. Her work ethic and deep care for investing in talent and bringing them up with her is something that always leaves me in awe,” says Zamora-Murguía. “I draw inspiration from her communication skills, strategic mindset, and coaching.”
She also points to David Trujillo, Co-Managing Partner of TPG’s Growth and TTAD funds, as a mentor and role model.
“He is a champion for our community while also being an incredible investor. He gives voice to the challenges our community faces and has for several years been the Partner Sponsor of our TPG Hispanic/Latino Employee Affinity Group. I have seen him in this capacity and also lead successful investments. I admire his foresight of industry changes and his willingness to develop the investment judgment of junior professionals.”
In every field, visionary leaders who embrace the role of mentorship have the power to elevate those around them. This transformative impact often blossoms at the crossroads of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and personal career growth. Though the journey may vary for each individual, the essence remains the same: together, we can achieve greater heights and cultivate an environment where everyone thrives.
What Mentorship Really Means
Zamora-Murguía is far from alone in highlighting the importance of connection, commonality, and mentorship, particularly within the Hispanic/Latinx community. But what does that look like, in practice? From her perspective, it’s on both the mentor and the mentee—not one or the other—to build a thriving, mutually beneficial relationship.
“It’s important to identify mentors, but it’s just as important to be a great mentee. Be respectful of a mentor’s time and have a very clear understanding of what you would like their counsel on. When someone takes the time to mentor you and help you refine or develop new skills, this allows you to compete in new spaces and showcase your talent,” she says. She also notes that there’s a difference between informal (or formal) mentorship and finding a “sponsor” who can advocate as well as advise.
“Identifying someone as a sponsor or advocate for you is slightly different. First and foremost, your performance must pave the way for this relationship,” she says. “When you are a strong performer, it makes the role of a sponsor easier when they advocate on your behalf when you aren’t in the room. I think it’s also important to be open-minded about who could be your best sponsor. They may not look like you or be from the same background. You want to find someone who values your ability, sees your potential and is willing to coach you on next steps in your career.”
Latinx Presence in the Workplace
The need for mentorship is linked to the growth and success of all underrepresented demographics. Latinx employees looking to ascend the career ladder need mentors who are fully committed to DEI and who recognize their unique traits and strengths as potentially beneficial to the organization as a whole.
Although the proportion of Hispanic/Latinx employees is growing constantly, the fact also remains that far too many of these professionals feel that they cannot be their authentic selves at work – or, if they are, they will not get the same opportunities and promotions. One study pointed to that situation with these statistics:
- 27% say they agree with the statement “[I] cannot be myself at work,” and 36% agree that “[I] have to work harder than my peers to feel included.”
- 53% of Latinas and 44% of Latino men say that the definition of “executive presence” at their companies centers on traditionally white male standards.
- 43% of Latinas and 33% of Latino men believe they need to compromise their authenticity to meet “executive presence” standards at their companies.
Also worth noting from the same study: Latinos with workplace sponsors are 42% more likely to be satisfied with their career progression than Latinos without sponsors, but high-earning Latino employees in large companies are less likely than their white colleagues to have sponsors.
Looking to the Future
Companies that want to address this gap and live up to their DEI ideals have work to do. It means investing in inclusivity, re-evaluating biases, having leaders set the right example, identifying and developing diverse top talent, and ensuring they have what they need to thrive.
“It’s important for organizations to first identify that it is a priority for them to create an inclusive environment and then ensure they invest in developing their talent. A great diverse talent strategy is simply a great talent strategy,” says Zamora-Murguía. “The best thing an organization can do is develop great managers and provide them with the tools to succeed in cultivating talent. Managers should give honest and constructive feedback, identify an individual’s potential, provide challenging work, recognize them publicly, and advocate for their career growth.”
In the alternative asset space, firms like TPG believe DEI is inextricably entwined with their core values like growth and innovation. The firm is advised by its own Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council while also impacting portfolio companies by advancing diversity on boards, among investment managers, and more. Actions like this prove that DEI is not something that can be siloed away or trotted out for publicity – it’s a real commitment that involves investing in leadership, mentorship, and building a culture where everyone can have the opportunity to excel without having to hide any part of themselves.
By Ruben Moreno
About the Author
After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.” Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR and Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.